Once life returned to the airport we set off to figure out our way around the city. Turns out traveling by public transportation is very convenient for tourists. We purchased a travel card for £8.90, which allowed us to take any form of transportation, as much as we want, for the whole day. There are day passes or a week pass and I highly recommend it if you aren’t doing the Big Bus because its just so convenient. So instead of walking to our hotel we caught the bus.
With clear skies overhead I knew it would be a great day. Our adventures started at Trafalgar Square where we were in aw at the size of Nelson’s column. Nelson's Column was built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The monument was constructed between 1840 and 1843. The monument is 51.6 m tall from the bottom of the pedestal to the top of his hat.
Our ride on the underground lead us to, Big Ben, that’s when it really hit me that we were in London. The iconic structure might not be what you think it is. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock but often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower since 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. The clock is apart of the Palace of Westminster a fairly new structure, after the old Palace of Westminster was destroyed in a fire on October 16th 1834.
A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without watching Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace long with the other thousand tourists. Although hot, sweaty, and congested, it was a great experience. You hear about these things but being there is something else. Changing the Guard or Guard Mounting is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard, fancy shift changing. When Guardsmen are on duty, the soldiers are drawn from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards.
Next up the National gallery, I have never seen a collection of paintings larger than the one at the National Gallery. Amoungst the large collection are some very popular names such as The Virgin of the Rocks Leonardo da Vinci, The Madonna of the Pinks Raphael, The Entombment Michelangelo, Sunflowers Vincent van Gogh, and Bathers at La Grenouillère Claude Monet
Last stop China Town, taking up a pretty large area China town is filled with Asian gifts, medicine, and cuisine. British Chinese make up the second or third largest group of overseas Chinese in Europe after communities in France and Russia. The British Chinese community is thought to be the oldest Chinese community in Western Europe, with the first Chinese coming in the early 19th century. Most of them are from former British colonies, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Chinese community is the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK, with 9.9% annual growth between 2001 and 2007, 90% of it due to immigration.
As a spur of the moment we decided we just had to go to Kings Cross station to see platform 9 ¾. Here is the place of departure for the Hogwarts Express in all movies. Other Harry Potter locations we visited are St. Pancras International, next door to King’s Cross Station. St. Pancras Station was used as the actual train station for the Hogwarts Express. Harry and Ron park the Weasley's Ford Anglia in the corner of the courtyard during the Chamber of Secrets and later fly over the station. Leadenhall Market used for Diagon Alley in The Philosopher's Stone. you might be able to recognize the blue door of the Opticians in Bull's Head Passage on Charing Cross Road as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron. Piccadilly Circus is one of the locations that Harry, Ron and Hermione run through during the Deathly Hallows Part 1 as they flee the wedding of Ron's older brother from Death Eaters. Westminster Tube Station was one of the main locations used by Harry when travelling in The Order of the Phoenix. He andby Arthur Weasley walked through here to attend a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic.
The end of our day was saved for the London eye. In the largest viewing thingy it travels slowly enough to get all the pictures your heart desires. You can see the sights and learn about them on the provided tablets. The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel also known as the Millennium Wheel. It is 135 m tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 m. It is currently Europe's tallest Ferris wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.5 million visitors annually. When erected in 1999 it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel, until surpassed by three new attractions. It offered the highest public viewing point in the city until the 245 m observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard opened to the public on February 1st 2013.